Monday, June 16, 2014

a quick vacation

Last week I went on a quick sort of last minute trip to Mexico, to explore a corner of the Yucatan Peninsula with my friend who had been there for the last six months to finish up her masters degree. I flew into Cancun Saturday and had a pretty incredible first night complete with free beach dance parties and an impromptue moonlight swim in the ocean (which btw to all the people who warned that the ocean in Mexico would be cold.... wrong. It was lovely).
The next morning we stocked up on sunscreen and insect repellent before taking a collectivo to Tulum. Tulum is a bit of a smaller city/town and it's very flat so everyone rides bikes. We checked into our hostel, (which seemed like it was going to be a bit empty but it had a nice roof bar and a cute little wading pool and air conditioning in the rooms so we decided to give it a go) and found a place to rent some bikes (70 pesos for 24 hours) and got some refreshments and headed to the beach.
There was a paved bike path running through the jungle to the beach and it was a mostly pleasant ride, the rush of the breeze when you ride provides a nice change to the heaviness of the air when you are standing still. In case you can't tell, I had forgotten how, thick, very humid air can feel. So the beach was beautiful and the water was so incredibly refreshing. The sand was so fine, like powdered sugar, and very very white and we lingered there until the sun started to set since we didn't want to ride back through the jungle in the dark.

Sunset with palm trees is of course totally incredible!
There seemed to be a really great variety of food in Tulum, we actually saw a bunch of vegetarian places which for my friend (who is veg) was a big deal. This place we found across the road from our hostel had the most amazing stuffed pepper I've ever had (stuffed with roast veggies instead of something heavier like rice and cheese and served with sprouted lentils and the best/weirdest purple salad dressing) as well as a very inspiring selection of agua fresca including pineapple mint, apple ginger and cucumber cilantro.
The next day we rode in the opposite direction from the beach to go check out the grand cenote, a natural rock well to the freshwater running under the peninsula, they build steps and platforms into the various corners and you could rent snorkel gear and swim about with turtles and fish and into the caves to check it out, then back out dry out on the deck. It was the clearest most insane colored water. I think Kari got a bunch of cool pictures with the underwater camera but I was happy just to splash around and look at everything. It was very relaxing since we got their early and it was mostly deserted, however, a bus full of hotel kids did show up and the end and it descended into a much frat-ier environment. Still we stayed until they closed down for the evening. 

We were met up at the cenote by two Australian girls who were sharing our room at the hostel, and that evening we all cooked dinner together and sat by the pool hanging out and drinking homemade sangria.
For our final day we rode our bikes out past the beach we had previously visited and went on a tour of some Mayan ruins. Honestly it was a bit too hot for me all exposed out in the sun. I envied the people who had the forethought to bring big umbrellas, and I mostly took a lot of pictures of the sky, which has some rather magnificent cloud formations.

There were also a ton of iguana's all over the property and a great variety of plants as well. I was particularly inspired by the shapes of these giant low palm leaves and how they interacted together.

After that we headed to the beach for the remainder of our day. Someone had previously mentioned that you can often claim unused resort chaises out on the beach either for free, or at most, if you buy something from their bar, so we found two together and settled in.
We both ordered coconuts, and after we drank them dry (so SO refreshing) they took them away and hacked them open with machetes only to return them with a spoon so we could scoop out and enjoy the fresh coconut meat inside. I've only ever had dried flake or shredded coconut so this was of course a tropical dream come true.

We lingered as long as we could, but finally we had to admit that there just wasn't any more sun, and we rode our bikes back into town. A note on the bikes, this was the most brilliant way to travel, both in that town, and for the price. I can't imagine taking cabs everywhere but also walking would have been a bit of a bummer as it is all fairly well spread out. We named our bikes Candace and Lucille and I know I became rather fond of mine in that time. It definitely made me wish San Francisco was flatter so I could have a wide heavy cruiser bike like this.

We spent our last night up at the hostels rooftop bar, (where as you can see, they had an abundance of Tequila and Mezcal which they stored in recycled water jugs, with spigots!) just chatting with different people and enjoying the last of our time there. I should say we also stopped at a tiny taco place on the way back from getting my bus ticket in town and I had what may have arguably been the best tacos in the world. My friend said that they were Mexico City style tacos, all I know is that they were perfect and just served to solidify my belief that I could happily survive on nothing but Mexican food the rest of my life.

And then it was all journey back home. It was rather grueling and I'll skip all the details. Needless to say, I was pretty happy to get home and find that it was cold and drippy (which felt amazing on my sunburnt and bug bitten skin) and take a long shower and get into my own bed.
It was a fantastic adventure, of course too quick and I felt very out of practice after having spent so much time traveling previously. I would totally recommend the area and would like to go back and explore more myself in the future. Overall, it was beautiful and fun, pictures don't do it justice, and I will just have to bring more bug spray next time!

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